February 2004: Christian Ecology Link: A Daily Prayer Guide for the Care of Creation
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February 2004

         "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
And make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
But those who trust in idols, who say to images,
'You are our gods', will be turned back in utter shame."
(Isaiah 42.16-17)

"The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and justice. Every increase in needs tends to increase ones dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate cause of strife and war." (E.F. Schumacher)

Sunday 1st February
Lord, give us a deeper understanding of your purposes, that we may be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail, nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame. Amen.

Monday 2nd February
According to Lester R. Brown of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, the water table in the North China Plain, which produces half of China's wheat and a third of its rice, is falling by 3-10 feet a year. In the last five years the Chinese grain harvest has dropped by 66 million tons, an amount in excess of Canada's total annual grain harvest. China has reserves of grain for one more year, after which it will have to turn to the world market. Last year, the world's grain harvest fell short of consumption by a record 92 million tons, reducing world grain stocks to their lowest level in thirty years. Price rises are inevitable.

Tuesday 3rd February
To produce one ton of grain requires 1,000 tones of water. This helps to explain why 70% of all water use is for irrigation of crops. The tripling of global water demand over the last fifty years, combined with the advent of diesel- and electrically-driven pumps, has led to excessive over-pumping of aquifers. As a result, more than half the world's people now live in countries where water tables are falling and wells are going dry. Among these countries are China, India and the USA, which, between them, provide half the world's grain harvest.

Wednesday 4th February
In 1997 the Yellow River, China's second biggest river, failed to reach the sea for 226 days. Last June, the Government announced that the river had reached its lowest level for half a century, leaving 12% of Chinese people short of water. Every year, 2,500 square kilometers of China turns into a desert, while dust storms occur ever more frequently. Most Chinese scientists blame rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Another factor is the retreat of glaciers in the mountains forming the catchment area of major Chinese rivers.

Thursday 5th February
According to Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, June to August 2003 were the warmest months ever recorded in Western and Central Europe. In the UK the temperature exceeded 100oF. for the first time. Satellite data show that the Earth has lost 10% of its snow cover since 1960 and that lakes and rivers in the northern hemisphere remain frozen for two weeks less than a century ago. The Arctic sea ice has thinned by 40% since the 1950s. The World Health Organisation estimates that the spread of diseases, such as malaria, due to global warming may have caused 5 million deaths. Yet so far, the increase in global temperatures has been a mere 0.60C.

Friday 6th February
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, designed to reduce global warming, cannot officially come into force until it is ratified by either the USA or Russia. The EU is theoretically committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 1990 levels. Yet only Britain and Sweden are on target to achieve this: all other EU countries are failing. The USA, which emits nearly 25% of the world's carbon emissions, will be 30% off the Kyoto target by 2010. In December, the chairman of its Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee said: "I'm becoming more and more convinced . . . that global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people and the world."

Saturday 7th February
Coal-fired power stations supply 34% of the world's electricity, but cause 39% of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. World governments currently give $300 billion a year in subsidies for the development of new fossil fuel projects. World Bank loans for fossil fuel projects since 1992 will have contributed 38 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere.
Stop press: A new report , commissioned by the World Bank, called the "Extractive Industries Review" recommends that the Bank stops financing coal and oil projects in developing countries and increases funding for renewable energy projects. The Bank will decide by the end of March whether to adopt the recommendations. The report can be viewed on www.eireview.org

Sunday 8th February
Father, forgive us for the folly, blindness and greed with which we have pursued material gains, oblivious to the grievous cost to your creation. Help us to seek to pursue a vision of your world which husbands all its resources, so that humankind can live together at peace without damaging the world that you have given us to enjoy.

Monday 9th February
Population is a subject that mainstream environmental organizations tend to ignore, yet environmental refugees are a growing feature of the 21st century. 70% of the yearly increase in Britain's population is accounted for by immigration. The Optimum Population Trust calls for the stabilization of the UK population at current levels and for much greater efforts by the governments of rich countries to support economic and educational development in poorer countries along with funding for reproductive services. For more information visit www.optimumpopulation.org

Tuesday 10th February
The Government has recently announced stringent limits on future carbon emissions by industry. These will require an 8% reduction between 2001 and 2008 and a bigger reduction between 2008 and 2012. Between 1500 and 2000 installations will be affected, including power stations, oil refineries, coke ovens, metal processing plants, iron and steel factories and cement works. This is to bring us nearer our national target of a 20% reduction in carbon emissions between 1990 and 2010, and will above all provide a powerful boost to the development of low-carbon technologies and services, especially renewable energy.

Wednesday 11th February
Last June nineteen leading banks signed the Equator Principles, which commit them to the social and environmental policies of the World Bank's private arm. Yet Barclays, one of the signatories, is financing a huge hydropower project in Iceland which breaches several of the Principles, while at least eight of the signatory banks are supporting the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, which breaches five of the Principles on at least 127 counts. For details of bank involvement visit www.banktrack.org.uk

Thursday 12th February
In 2002 the Government's Competition Commission, responding to evidence that large supermarkets were operating against the public interest, introduced an agreed Code of Practice. Now an alliance of NGOs has shown the Code to be ineffective and is calling for legal sanctions against breaches. The Competition Commission had found that terms negotiated by big supermarkets with their suppliers gave them a significant advantage over smaller stores and would lead to some of them going out of business. Between 1997 and 2002 more than 13,000 stores closed, including butchers, bakers, fishmongers and newsagents, leaving communities without accessible local shops and increasing the rise in carbon emissions by forcing shoppers to drive longer distances to buy essentials.
A review of the Code was announced over a year ago, yet nothing has emerged. For details visit www.foe.org.uk/resource/briefings/farmers_supermarket_code

Friday 13th February
A three-day conference on Indigenous Knowledge and Bioprospecting is being held at Macquarrie University, Sydney, Australia. It is intended for indigenous peoples, scientists and lawmakers, and will consider the protection of indigenous rights, valuing traditional ecological knowledge and enhancing biocultural diversity. For details visit www.plant-talk.org/conferences

Saturday 14th February
Brazil's Atlantic Forest - the most endangered rainforest in the world - has been voted legal protection by the Brazilian Congress after eleven years of campaigning. Only 7% of the original forest remains, yet 40% of its plant species occur nowhere else, while many of its animals and birds are endemic to the region. The legislation is designed to control plantation farming, logging and settlements. It is an answer to the prayers of many people over a long period.

Sunday 15th February
Heavenly Father, we pray for all in authority, for heads of state, ministers, judges, civil servants and local government officers, that they may please you
In the justice they administer,
In the mercy they display,
In the wisdom of their policies,
In the integrity of their decisions.
This we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday 16th February
Homebase is to accept no more hardwood garden furniture from Indonesia as there is no means of knowing whether or not the timber is being sustainably produced. Over 60% of its wood products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably produced and most come from FSC sources in China or from Malaysian suppliers who are members of WWF producer groups.
Meanwhile, at home, BioRegional Minimills has received a £90,500 grant to test its ability to produce high quality paper using non-wood fibres such as straw from hemp, flax, wheat and rice as the raw material for paper pulp. For more information ring BioRegional Minimills on 020 8404 4885.

Tuesday 17th February
Today the Northwest Renewables Conference takes place at Old Trafford, Manchester - a free event offering presentations, case studies and workshops covering a wide range of renewable energy topics including wind, photovoltaics, biomass, fuel cells and refuse-derived fuel. For details ring 01257 276176 or visit: envirenergy.org.uk

Wednesday 18th February
The Energy and Environmental Management Conference takes place today, also at Old Trafford, Manchester, with presentations, case studies and workshops covering the latest developments in energy-saving, waste management and environmental best practice. The conference is free. Details as before.
A visit to www.greenstreet.org.uk will show eight types of home energy and water efficiency, sustainable materials, waste reduction and health features, with advice on standards, costs, funding and procurement.

Thursday 19th February
A survey of Britain's thirteen biggest house-builders, commissioned by WWF, covered their impacts on the environment and society, and looked at their governance, strategies and risk management. Two companies - Countryside Properties and The Berkeley came up top with more than 70% each. The companies could have scored better if they had provided more public information on targets to reduce carbon emissions, to cut construction waste, and on their health an safety record. Paul King, director of WWF's One Million Sustainable Homes campaign, said: "This report should dispel any notion that investors aren't interested in sustainability. Mismanagemnt of both social and environmental impacts and risks can cost companies and their investors over the long term."
A new book from the Centre for Alternative Technology called "The Energy-Saving House" shows how to reduce energy use, both at the construction stage, at renovation and in daily heating and cooking. For details ring CAT on 01654 705950.

Friday 20th February
Last month President George Bush gave voice to his aspiration to establish a base on the Moon and to mount a manned expedition to Mars.
In that same week, Britain's Chief Scientific Officer, Sir David King, said that climate change was a more serious threat than terrorism and that the USA had failed to take up the challenge of global warming.
Also, a study by leading international scientists published in "Nature" warned that climate change could lead to the extinction of a quarter of the world's species.
Other scientists said that last summer's heatwave, which claimed 35,000 lives in Western Europe, could be a foretaste of things to come.
Yet the USA, which comprises a mere 4% of the world's population, continues to emit over 20% of climate-changing gases, principally from the burning of coal, gas and oil, while dreaming of further exploits in space.

Saturday 21st February
Today a conference called "Resource Justice: Cornerstone of the 21st Century" takes place at the Salon des Artes, 191 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5EU, from 3 to 6 p.m. The keynote speakers are Claire Heather (National Trust), Satish Kumar (Resurgence) and Wolfgang Sachs (Wuppertal Institute), after which there will be a discussion of the issues. Tickets at £5 each include wine. Contact details: 020 8809 2391 or e-mail: peterlange@resurgence.org

Sunday 22nd February
"Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream" (Amos 5.24)
Look mercifully, Lord God, upon your world and heal the sorrows and suffering of humankind. Save the nations from the lust for money and power, from racial hatred and jealousy, and from the worship f material things. Grant that in every land the rule of oppression may be broken and the cause of justice may triumph, that people everywhere may learn to serve you in the peace and freedom of your kingdom. (Frank Colquhoun)

Monday 23rd February
Last December President Bush signed the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, allocating $3.7 billion of state funding to nanotech development over the next four years. The legislation contained nothing about the regulation of the industry. Yet scientists from France's National Centre for Scientific Research have announced that carbon nano-tubes can easily enter living cells, where they tend to migrate to the nucleus. Nano-tubes are already incorporated in car body parts and tennis rackets, and will this year be used in flat-screen TV sets and are already being turned out in 100-tonne quantities by Mitsubishi. Pray that the forthcoming publication of a EU policy document on nanotechnology will be based on the precautionary principle.

Tuesday 24th February
Today, at the Royal Society of Arts, 8 John Adam Street, London, a conference on Science, Ethics and Religion will be held under the auspices of the John Ray Initiative, the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity and the RSA. The keynote speaker will be Holmes Rolston, winner of the 2003 Templeton Prize for Progress Towards Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Other speakers include Graham Ashworth, formerly of Going for Green, Bishop John Oliver, former Bishop of Hereford, Jonathon Porritt and Sir Ghillean Prance. Tickets for the conference, which runs from 9.45 to 5.45, are £15 including lunch. For more information visit www.jri.org.uk

Wednesday 25th February
A report from the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society called "The Net Effect" details the destructive fishing practices that are killing thousands of dolphins a year - perhaps as much as 5% of the total each year. Huge nets, often as wide as two football pitches, pulled by two trawlers at once, cause many deaths. Trials with "escape hatches" at the top of trawl nets are showing promising results. Acoustic deterrent devices or "pingers" are in use in a number of fisheries, but may be displacing dolphins from their best habitats. The European Commission proposes:
" A limit on the length of driftnets to 2.5 km. in the Baltic Sea, followed by total prohibition in 2007;
" Compulsory use of "pingers" in fisheries associated with bycatches of harbour porpoises;
" Compulsory onboard observer monitoring of cetacean bycatches in specified fisheries and areas of the Celtic Sea, Bay of Biscay and the Channel.
WDCS believes that management objectives need to be specified, with the ultimate aim of reducing bycatches to zero.

Thursday 26th February
A WWF/TRAFFIC report on the ivory trade in West Africa shows that over the last four years the amount of ivory on sale in Lagos has increased by 14%. The researchers found nearly 2,000 kg. of worked and raw ivory, representing ivory from about 380 elephants. Much of the ivory found in West Africa comes from Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Congo. The cost of ivory has gone down by 50% since 1999, suggesting an increase in supply. The main buyers have been identified as American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Korean. Callum Rankine of WWF comments: "Until ivory smugglers are made an example of in their own country, when caught, this lawless trade will continue. Strong penalties must be handed out which act as a real deterrent."

Friday 27th February
People all over the world are resisting the car culture by getting on their bikes. The Critical Mass Bike Ride is a celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents, and the loss of public spaces and freedoms. Bikers meet at 6 p.m. under Waterloo Bridge for departure by 6.45. Bring (besides your bike) noise, light, life, leaflets and enthusiasm! For more information e-mail: cmlondon.enrager.net

Saturday 28th February
Last August, after a three-week chase off Antarctica, a British fisheries protection ship caught a Uruguayan trawler carrying 85 tonnes of illegally-caught Patagonian Toothfish worth about A$1 million. The illegal fisheries of the Southern Ocean are responsible for the deaths of thousands of albatrosses caught as by-catch. Vastly improved fishery protection resources are needed to arrest the decline of marine birds and mammals due to modern fishing methods.

Sunday 29th February
Give us, loving Father, the wisdom so to deal with the things we possess that they may never possess us. Deliver us from reliance on our own cleverness in science and technology. Banish our fears as we face so
many uncertainties in the 21st century. Keep our feet always on the path of justice and peace, for the sake of your Son, who died to save us from our sins.

Sources: The Ecologist; Green Futures; Plant Talk.

For further information and requests for prayer please write or e-mail to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells TN4 OSY
e-mail: pcwebb@rdplus.net



The Ecologist
Greenpeace Business
The Organic Way (HDRA)
Positive News
Understanding Global Issues
WWF News

For further information and prayer request please email: pcw@christian-ecology.org.uk
or write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 OSY

Copyright © 2001-2008 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link

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